Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


Pets Large & Small

We called him Bam

Jennifer Vanderau
Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter

(6/2013) We called him Bam and I can't really tell you what the letters stood for or my parents will disown me.

He was a black cat and for some reason, we have trouble adopting out black cats. I don't know if it's the odd superstition associated with them (I would think that was something long gone from our collective consciousness by now) or if it's because people are looking for some "unique" markings in their prospective feline, but for whatever reason, Bam had been with us for a while.

He got his name (seriously, I can't tell you or my parents will be down to only two kids) because of the story that unfolded when we met him. He was dropped off in our outside dog run some time in early morning hours of September 4, 2012. It still boggles my mind that people will leave a cat in a dog run. You know I actually had to explain to a woman once that cats can climb and that's why she shouldn't just dump the calico she had into the dog run?


At any rate, we had no idea he was even there. We have cages on the porch for cats, so we didn't even think to check the dog run for a cat. When we pull up to the shelter and don't see a dog running around in the big outside run, we figure we're having a good day.

Little did we know.

He was discovered when one of our volunteers took Blueberry for a walk. Blueberry was a purebred, cropped ears and all, pitbull. She was a sweetheart of a dog, but amazingly strong. She got adopted a while back and is having a marvelous life.

But at the time of Bam's discovery, she was still looking for her forever home and out on a jaunt with a volunteer.

Well, the volunteer brought Blueberry into the outside dog run and set out on her typical spree. It took her probably all of .03 seconds to discover she wasn't the only four-legged creature in that dog run.

She found that cat really fast.

And the battle was on.

Do you know who came out the victor? The cat. No joke. This cat had to be probably an eighth of Blueberry's size, but he apparently came out of that dog box fighting and didn't let up once.

Blueberry was a mess. We had to medicate her scratches -- some of which were really deep and included her face, mouth and chest-- and put her on an antibiotic, just to be safe.

The cat didn't have a mark on him. I'm not even kidding. We named him Bam.

Bam was a dear soul. He had those vivid green eyes that seem to stand out with black cats -- and coming from someone who lives with four all-black cats, I never understood why these babies tend to get overlooked. Mine have incredibly expressive faces.

He was just the nicest cat.

He was neutered and put up for adoption and caught the eye of a lot of helpful folks, including those at the Emmitsburg Journal. When we used Bam's picture in our Christmas edition, it was amazing what that one little photo did. He had a special story to begin with, but something about this guy caught the hearts of a lot of staff at the Journal and many inquiries were made about his status.

I'm sure they're going to be thrilled to get to the end of this column (spoiler alert!).

Bam's story isn't finished yet, though. After taking on a pitbull and winning -- I'm telling you when they got Bam out of that dog run (he was petrified, but didn't go after any of the humans trying to help him) I swear I could hear the Rocky theme song playing -- his saga wasn't over.

Bam started excessively grooming himself. It sounds bizarre, but dogs sometimes, and cats especially, can develop this tendency. Sometimes it's a flea allergy, sometimes it's a food allergy and sometimes it's just an obsessive disorder.

Yes, our animals can suffer from OCD. We had a cat years ago at the shelter who thought her tail was some kind of enemy. She attacked it to the point of drawing her own blood, if you can believe it. Once we put her on medications to calm her (the kitty equivalent of prozac) she stopped bothering the tail.

With Bam, we weren't sure what was going on, so we started by checking him for fleas.


We gave him a shot of a steroid to help with the inflammation and put him in our isolation area with one of those dreaded e-collars, or "the cone of shame," as some pet owners call it.

He didn't look too thrilled with his latest fashion accessory, but we had to keep him from licking his back and give the skin irritation time to clear up.

We also switched his food to chicken-and-rice and applied ointment to the scabs he'd created. Despite his situation, which really didn't look all that comfortable, he never gave us any trouble. I mean, yeah, he wasn't too terribly happy -- he had that not-too-thrilled cat look in those expressive green eyes whenever I went back to check on him -- but never once did he take it out on the people who were helping him.

I truly can't say the same about other animals we've helped.

After all that, it was most definitely time for Bam's happy ending.

And it came eight months to the day of his arrival.

On May 4, 2013, a family came in looking to add some felines to their household. For some reason, they were drawn to Bam.

I always wonder what it is that makes people choose the animals that they do. Something tells me there was more at work here than maybe we'll ever know. It can't be a complete coincidence that he went home eight months to the very day that he was found.

Well, they adopted not only Bam, but another one of our felines named Gus. The day they did the adoption, they sent us an update via Facebook to let us know how well the boys were doing together and how happy they are to have them.

Bam's story truly is one that reminds me why animal shelters and rescue groups across the world do what they do.

Here was a cat who had been discarded by humans who didn't even care enough to make sure he was safe in a cage instead of a huge outside dog run. He met a giant pitbull the very next day and didn't let the dog intimidate him. He came through what we suspect was a food allergy with flying colors and found his forever home.

Bam could have been a sad statistic at any time in his story.

But he wasn't. Because people cared enough to help this guy.

And now as the credits roll on his tale, picture a relatively rotund, all black cat with remarkable green eyes settling into his new place with a contented sigh.

Technically for Bam, it shouldn't say "the end."

For him, this is just the beginning.

Jennifer Vanderau is the Director of Communications for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter, and can be reached at The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at (717) 263-5791 or visit the website CVAS also operates thrift stores in Chambersburg and Shippensburg. Help support the animals at the shelter by donating to or shopping at the stores.

Read other articles by Jennifer Vanderau